Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The constructive features of silence

...have occupied my thoughts ever since I came across those words in ""Moncton Did You Know?" Northrop Frye's Early Years", an essay by Robert D. Denham in the Antigonish Review #138. Naturally such thinking led to a consideration of the destructive features. Then a face of features. Before I knew it silence was practically smiling.

This essay is the first I've read about Frye's life and it's the first I've heard about his introversion. I imagine most people who majored in English in Canada have or had a copy of Frye's The Educated Imagination on their bookshelves. I still have mine, a worn copy hideously marked up with highlighters. The yellow, pink and orange just won't fade. As I flipped through the book earlier this evening I, at first, found it hard to imagine Frye -- an influential literary critic who, according to the bio in the book, had lectured at over 100 universities -- noting any features of silence at all, much less the constructive ones. But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.

4 comments:

MackJohnny said...

I haven't read that essay (or much of Frye, for that matter), but I'm all about the silence as a necessary component of creativity (and of whatever shreds of sanity I might lay claim to). Hmmm, I might have to write about this.

Brenda Schmidt said...

Silence is something I've been exploring in my work for some time. As you'll see in his essay, Denham says Frye, referring to his youth, writes about silence in his autobiographical notes: "one of the constructive features of silence is that it creates a space around the self. If you talk, Frye says, you open the gate to the enemy". This space is what interests me most. The gated self.

I, too, think silence is vital to creativity, though I often get caught up in what silence is, what it does. I look forward to your take on it, John.

MackJohnny said...

It's exactly that space around the self that I was thinking of.

Brenda Schmidt said...

I'll be watching your blog for more on this. I do hope more is coming.